The useR! 2010 R users conference just finished up this afternoon with a thought-provoking, controversial, and sometimes hilarious talk by Richard Stallman of GNU fame. It started on Tuesday with great tutorials (I took ones on MICE for multiple imputation and Frank Harrell’s excellent regression modeling). In between these bookends was a wonderful conference where I got the chance to put faces to names (from their online presence), make many new friends, hopefully no enemies, and learn quite a bit. The breadth of activity in the R community is truly breathtaking, and it was encouraging to see a good fraction of the participants and presenters be from domains other than stat/math/CS, and who have invested in learning R to solve their substantive problems. Most of us stat/math types learned R or other statistical software primarily through classwork in undergrad or grad school, in other words a safe environment in which to learn. These individuals are learning out of necessity to solve the questions in their domain, and investing in R learning has allowed them to do just that, and this conference provided them a portal to give back and show us their R stories.
The conference environment was excellent and collegial, and the organizers provided almost an European atmosphere, where we all felt well taken care of (the wine didn’t hurt, either). Not surprising, since this conference’s last three incarnations were in Northern Europe, and the next will be in England. We found a great environment for meeting people, learning new ideas, considering collaborations and generally realizing potential new directions in our thought processes on data analysis and statistical ideas in general.
One of the highlights for me was an excellent blogging call-to-arms by Tal Galili of R-bloggers.com fame. It has provoked me to start sharing my ideas once again on this blog, and I’m sure you’ll find this blog much more updated and active in the coming days and months.
Though I probably will not go to the Old Country across the Pond for next year’s meeting (not even to see Lady Godiva), I know I’ll be there in spirit, having had such a blast on this one. And to the organizers of this one, both on the organizing committee and anonymous volunteers, a heartfelt thank you.